Six suspended at Columbia school after shackling incident

Six workers at the Columbia Training School have been suspended with pay as state welfare officials investigate allegations that girls were shackled as punishment.

The Department of Human Services and federal officials began looking at the daily operations of Columbia Training School after eight girls were allegedly placed in leg shackles for several weeks in May.

The investigation widened when a Mississippi House committee was told of accusations that male guards asked girls for sexual favors and gave teens cigarettes.

DHS' executive director, Don Taylor, says the investigation could be completed within a week. He would not identify the employees involved.

Both Columbia and Oakley training schools house teens who commit crimes ranging from drug possession to assault. They typically stay six weeks to a few months, depending on the sentence.

Oakley houses 146 boys. Columbia houses 33 girls.

In May 2005, the state entered a four-year consent decree to end a Justice Department lawsuit over allegations of abuse at the training schools.